Chinese commodity futures have given back much of their early session gains

Photo: iStock.

Anyone hoping for a surge in Chinese commodity futures following the start of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in China over the weekend — including a continuation of production capacity cuts in the nation’s steel and coal sectors — will be a little disappointed with the market reaction so far.

Not only have many contracts given back much of the gains seen on Friday evening, some — including rebar and and iron ore — have actually fallen into the red.

Here’s the scoreboard at the mid-session break in China.

SHFE Copper ¥48,380 , 0.02%
SHFE Aluminium ¥13,920 , -1.42%
SHFE Zinc ¥22,670 , -0.72%
SHFE Nickel ¥91,450 , 1.31%
SHFE Rebar ¥3,471 , -0.80%
DCE Iron Ore ¥669.50 , -1.25%
DCE Coking Coal ¥1,310.00 , 1.24%
DCE Coke ¥1,802.00 , 1.18%

On Sunday, the Chinese government announced that it would target further reductions in annual steel and coal production of around 50 and 150 million tonnes in 2017, adding to the 65 and 290 million tonnes of cuts made a year earlier that were larger than initially planned.

In early 2016, the government pledge to address acute overcapacity in these sectors, targeting 100 million to 150 million tonnes of steel capacity cuts and 800 million tonnes of coal capacity by 2020.

Along with supply disruptions and a rebound in Chinese steel demand, these cuts saw prices for steel and its related inputs soar in 2016, reversing the trend seen in the previous four years.

The early price action in commodity futures suggests investors may be underwhelmed by these announcements.

“Some may focus on the slower GDP growth target for 2017 while others, more familiar with China’s political cycle, are likely to point to the fact the Chinese government remains strongly committed to infrastructure investment in railway, road and water conservancy,” said Wei Li, China and Asia economist at the Commonwealth Bank.

“The continued reduction in excess capacity in steel and coal industries is supposedly good for both domestic and global commodity prices,” he added.

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